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Haydn Piano Trios with Harpsichord and Modern Piano

(The Queen's Chamber Trio and Beaux Arts Trio)

These two recordings make for potentially interesting comparison. The "historically aware" Queen's Chamber Trio of New York opt for the harpsichord, on the basis that whilst the fortepiano was beginning to usurp the harpsichord as the primary keyboard instrument, harpsichords were still very widely used around 1800 and publishers were eager to accommodate both. Elaine Comparone argues that her instrument blends better strings and "makes its presence felt with a sparle absent with piano sonority".

They don't intend any disputation, of course, and in the context of these two sets received for review this month during Haydn's important tricentenary year it is bad luck for them to find themselves pitted against the Beaux Arts Trio and, especially, against Menahem Pressler, who finds a delicious way to make his modern piano 'sparkle' too...

It has to be conceded that these North American authenticists sound a little dull, however correct, and against my own inclination I am bound to recommend that Haydn enthusiasts who feel unable to afford both should definitely settle for the Beaux Arts Trio if their pioneering recordings are not already in their collections.

Music Web expresses disappointment with this QCT issue more forcefully...

Peter Grahame Woolf